The Desire (2017)
Directed by: Joram Lürsen | 90 minutes | comedy | Actors: Chantal Janzen, Gijs Naber, Alex Klaasen, Peter Bolhuis, Jelka van Houten, Bram van der Vlugt, Anne-Wil Blankers
Things are not going so well with Uitgeverij Goudemondt from Amsterdam. Father Alfred has withdrawn from the family business, once founded by his father, which is now run by his sons Boudewijn “Beau” (Alex Klaassen) and Marc (Gijs Naber). Revenues are declining and successful titles no longer present themselves. Marc lives in a half-empty apartment, after his ex-wife has left behind only his books, a microwave and three lamps. Beau has stress related stomach problems. Then everything changes: at about the same time they get hold of two manuscripts: ‘The desire’, a literary masterpiece by the shy Herman Schutte (Peter Bolhuis) and a trinket by the shoe seller Brigitte Hooijmakers (Chantal Janzen). Herman is a stuttering, unkempt loner with a large port-wine stain on his face that cannot be sold as a person, while the attractive Brigitte has penned a misspelled piece from the perspective of a Jimmy Choo shoe.
Beau devises a wild plan to make a deal with Herman and Brigitte: she pretends to be the author of ‘The desire’ and Herman in turn knows that his work reaches a large audience, without having to put any effort into it. to do. Brother Marc is initially very skeptical, but is eventually persuaded to participate. On one condition: their parents must not find out. Brigitte and Herman participate and of course ‘The desire’ becomes a great success in no time. Not least thanks to a sophisticated media strategy in which the beautiful blond debutante who writes a grand and compelling novel about love and death takes center stage. Then things go wrong: when Herman threatens to become regretful, the plan begins to unravel fairly quickly.
‘Desire’ has become a very successful satire, which cleverly punctures the emptiness of the literary world, the superficiality of the media and of what is meant by “glamor” in our country. Chantal Janzen plays a very witty lead role as Brigitte (including a Purmerend accent that she took over from her nail stylist) and does not fail to poke fun at herself and the television world.
Naber here plays the role of the “straight man”, the serious coat rack while everything around him is going wrong and Klaassen is strong like the sometimes villainous Boudewijn, whose conscience plays up at crucial moments in the form of stomach pain. Routiniers Bram van der Vlugt and Anne-Wil Blankers play well-developed supporting roles as father and mother Goudemondt, who have managed to keep the publishing company running for forty years and who do not quite manage to keep their distance from how their sons try to keep the tent going. to hold.
Also on point are Jelka van Houten as Brigitte’s girlfriend Mariska and Matteo van der Grijn as Brigitte’s bodyguard André, an ex-kick boxer who loves American pit bulls.
Director Joram Lürsen and screenwriter Frank Ketelaar use a cheerful tone, but meanwhile they hold up a mirror to everyone. To what extent does appearance determine (literary) success? That in itself is not an original idea and the plot is quite conventional, yet they manage to weave quirky scenes throughout the film.
Whether it’s cameos by writers Ronald Giphart, Mano Bouzamour and Robert Vuijsje at the Frankfurter Buchmesse, the presentation of the book in RTL Boulevard with Winston Gerstanowitz and De Wereld Draait Door with Matthijs van Nieuwkerk and Jan Mulder, everyone participates in this joke with the double bottom. Special mention to Jochem ten Haaf who plays the fictional writer Aaron Golsteijn, but in which Arnon Grunberg can be recognized effortlessly. Ten Haaf knows how to bring the mixture of insufferable self-righteousness and an almost shy charmingness of the real Grunberg into the limelight.
The reference to Grunberg is in itself striking, because he wrote the prize-winning “The history of my baldness” as Marek van der Jagt. And he certainly wasn’t the first (or the last) in literary history to pretend to be someone else.
Lürsen delivers a fine film here, with funny pinpricks and a smoothly told story. Sometimes the pace is even a bit too much, with many scene changes that seem a bit restless after a while. The thriller element in the last quarter of the film doesn’t work quite well, which makes the film a bit off balance. Peter Blok’s slightly ironic voice-over fits in with the style of the film, but ultimately adds little. That does not alter the fact that ‘The desire’ is an extremely entertaining satire, which makes good points without being too vicious.